In South Philadelphia, a community of tight neighborhoods and strong traditions, a long-hidden opioid crisis is starting to reveal itself.
At Broad and Snyder Streets, next to a booming restaurant row and a major transit hub, Destinie Campanella makes her rounds. She lugs a bag full of Narcan, the overdose reversal drug, and water bottles to the corner where a few people in addiction sleep on cardboard mattresses. It's a sight familiar a few miles away in the open-air heroin scene of Kensington, but not here.
MHP, in partnership with Mural Arts' Porchlight program, hosted our ribbon cutting ceremony on August 28th. The mural is a fantastic testament to the work that we do as ambassadors of hope and of the resilience and power of the individuals with whom we partner.
The mural is designed by artists Eric Okdeh and Alvin Tull and created in partnership with Mental Health Partnership’s A New Life Recovery and Education Center in West Philadelphia, and is now viewable at 885 N Preston Street in West Philly.
“They blocked traffic. They held signs. They spoke of dead friends.
But the march for safe injection sites outside City Hall on Wednesday was encouraging — simply because advocates were bringing the fight downtown.
Of course, the politicians managed to hide anyway.
With 1,217 people dead from overdoses here in 2017, the highest rate of any major city, not a single City Council member bothered to show his or her face — if not in support of safe injection sites, at least in support of finding other measures to keep people alive.”
MHP’s own Carla Sofronski and Destinie Campanella are featured in the coverage of this protest.
PMHCA was a plaintiff in a lawsuit against the PA Department of Human Services that resulted in a unanimous PA Supreme Court decision to again make General Assistance available to people in Pennsylvania. The Mental Health Association in PA, a partner in many advocacy efforts, was also one of the several plaintiffs. Disability Rights PA represented our concerns about Act 80, a piece of legislation passed in 2012 during the Corbett administration which eliminated the General Assistance category.
Community Legal Services prepared a fact sheet providing this information.
Gloria Casarez Residence at 1315 North 8th Street, an LGBTQ-friendly community, is offering 30 subsidized units of supportive housing to young adults (age 18 to 23 upon move-in) who are at-risk of homelessness or are currently or formerly homeless.
Treatment programs and options have shifted in recent years. They’ve become more individualized and inclusive of families and others in people’s lives, and take into account patient histories, medical problems and other social challenges.
Two titans of our world, Joseph and Susan Rogers retired from MHP today, June 29, 2018. We celebrate this new chapter in each of their lives and are humbled and grateful for the decades of advocacy, leadership and powerful change that they authored not only for themselves, but alongside thousands of individuals living with a mental health condition. Together, they insisted that we believe in hope, that our belief required action and then paved the way for us to build a bridge to hope -- through peer support, community inclusion, and demanding a seat at the table. Today, because of their work, thousands of people diagnosed with a mental health condition are living the lives they had always imagined for themselves.
Thank you, Joseph and Susan! We wish you the best!
Mental Health Partnerships (MHP) is shocked and horrified by the atrocities and human rights violations happening to families and children attempting to cross the United States southern border. Michael Brody, President and CEO of MHP, released the following statement in response:
The Poor People's Campaign is a continuation of the nonviolent action started by Martin Luther King Jr. fifty years ago. He and others invited people who had been divided to stand together against the “triplets of evil”—militarism, racism, and economic injustice—to insist that people need not die from poverty in the richest nation ever to exist.
In 2018, hundreds of organizations and thousands of people have gathered together to stand against poverty and inequality, ecological devastation, systemic racism and the war economy and militarism. May started the beginning of 40 days of moral nonviolent action in over 40 state capitals across the country. The campaign will end on June 23rd in Washington D.C. in a mass rally to Stand Against Poverty.
The hope-building we do, together with our many partners, is not something that’s easily defined, measured, and evaluated. Nor is it easily shared with people secondhand. That doesn’t mean we won’t keep trying to show the impact of hope in action. Indeed, the data and the myriad stories from our partners are both the result of and source for hope.
As an organization and movement built on hope and great achievements, it’s no surprise we look toward 2018 with such anticipation.
Mental Health Partnerships, a city-contracted nonprofit that provides behavioral health services, has conducted their outreach and survey efforts in Kensington’s homeless camps. While those results are not yet published, the organization’s findings line up with the health department’s survey, said Stephanie Jamison, MHP’s organizational learning and development manager.
“The housing crisis is a health crisis,” Jamison said. “The survey indicates that 59 percent of respondents have recently participated in drug treatment,” Jamison said. “Providers need to make stable housing a central focus of their treatment and support services. No one should be discharged from an inpatient or residential treatment setting without a solid plan for stable housing.”
Kathy Laws (Family & Youth) was the recipient of the prestigious Dr. Robert H. Miller Award, given annually to one individual "who has made a long term commitment to the field and whose involvement, service and contributions to the improvement of the quality of life of persons with mental illness is noteworthy and exceptional." Kathy was recognized for her passion, advocacy, and trail-blazing efforts on behalf of Families and Youth.
MHP's programs are successful because our staff truly listen and respond to the needs of our participants. Check out “Anne & Ebony’s” story of how true partnership can be a life altering force.
We are so proud that over 60% of our staff have lived experience! Peer support means that our participants have access to individuals who understand their struggles, their choices, their victories! Check out our “I was YOU” video to meet some of the truly special individuals who help MHP make a difference in the lives of individuals who are walking their path to recovery.
"To fully understand the complexities of the growing opioid epidemic, we as a society must begin to engage one another without excluding those who are closest to the problem. People who are experiencing homelessness, active addiction from a substance use disorder and mental health challenges need to be at the table. We must consider those who are struggling with these challenges as subject matter experts when we invite them to the table to focus on solutions towards ending homelessness and with fighting the opioid epidemic in Philadelphia, such as exploring the expansion of low-barrier non-abstinence housing first programs."
Evan Figueroa-Vargas is a Board Member at Pathways to Housing PA, as well as a homeless service provider at Mental Health Partnerships.
When Darlene La Torre wakes up in the morning, there’s a good chance her husband of five years will want to kick off the day debating how to address the opioid crisis. And whether Philadelphia’s controversial proposal to open a supervised safe injection facility is a good idea.
Once at work, she’ll likely get an email or text from him linking to a study or article on the merits of such a site. When she gets home, she knows he’ll be poised to follow up. And if not then, then perhaps at 2 a.m.
“He wakes up and goes to the bathroom, and I just do the slightest move, and he’s like, ‘So yeah, I was thinking about this and that.’ And I’m like, ‘I’m trying to sleep right now!’ ” La Torre said.
While Ms. Hill is more than happy to help homeless people get out of the cold during the daytime hours in the chill of winter, her mission runs much deeper than that.
“Peer support is what we do,” she said. “A lot of people need peer support and need somebody to listen and we can be that person. We have different support groups that we offer. We specialize in peer services, so we offer different support groups, such as an employment group, and do some different activities, arts and crafts, music and things like that.
The meeting was held at CORA Services, a Fox Chase community center. It’s about 10 miles from the intersection of Emerald Street and East Lehigh Avenue — that’s 30 minutes driving, about an hour if you take SEPTA.
Still, at that intersection, an estimated 40 people living under the bridge heard the speakers of the night loud and clear. Evan Figueroa-Vargas made sure of it.
“Meet people where they’re at” is a phrase frequently used by those who practice harm reduction. It means working with people with substance use disorder, even if they are unable or unwilling to stop, to reduce the risks and the negative consequences. Medication-assisted treatment, needle exchanges and safe injection sites are some of the well-known examples.
Sofronski uses harm reduction strategies in her work as an advocate with Mental Health Partnerships in the Delaware Valley, and while doing outreach in encampments like Kensington.
The City of Philadelphia is recruiting residents to help in fighting the opioid epidemic. The city health commissioner, Dr. Thomas Farley, announced a new awareness campaign on Tuesday morning. The city is urging the public to carry Naloxone, an opioid antidote commonly known by the brand name Narcan, in an effort to reduce overdose deaths citywide. "We had 1,200 deaths from drug overdose. Many of these can be saved because, probably half or more, there's a witness nearby," said Farley.
To more formally recognize the value of peers in the workforce, Pennsylvania is moving to a new full peer certification offered by the Pennsylvania Certification Board (PCB). To make this transition as easy as possible for current Pennsylvania Peer Specialists, there will be a time-limited grandparenting process for those who wish to obtain the new full certification during the grandparenting period. The grandparenting period begins March 1, 2018 and ends August 31, 2019.
PHILADELPHIA, Feb. 23, 2018 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- "Mental Health Partnerships (MHP), a multi-faceted mental health advocacy and service agency, joins with all Americans in mourning the 17 lives lost at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida—and we demand that our legislators take immediate action to prevent such tragedies," says MHP President and CEO Michael Brody.
Another community is shattered following the mass shooting at a school in Broward County, Florida. Tri-State K-9 Response team is putting a together six teams of dogs and their handlers to provide comfort and support to that community. Janice Campbell, Program Manager of Community Outreach, MHASWNJ and her dog CeCe are members of this team whose mission is to help this community begin the healing process.
"Guiding chronically homeless people to the assistance they need is a delicate process, said those who work with the city’s indigent, and requires giving people with nowhere to go a place to feel welcome."
"Starting Wednesday, they will be offered a safe place in an unlikely space: deep in the tunnels of Suburban Station, where Project HOME, SEPTA, and city government have cooperated to build a daytime service center designed to help the city’s homeless."
"At a press conference on Tuesday, January 23rd, 2018, the City of Philadelphia announced that they would be encouraging the opening of one or more Comprehensive User Engagement Sites (CUES), also known as supervised injection facilities, or safe consumption sites."
"...Mental Health Partnerships is looking forward to working with individuals and community based organizations to complete this project, and ensure that mental health services, specifically peer support, are included in services offered, as a crucial component to the success of CUES and increasing opportunities for recovery."